Tag Archives: St. Louis Cardinals

Cards kickoff Grapefruit League action today

Blake Hawksworth, St. Louis Cardinals

Blake Hawksworth, St. Louis Cardinals

You know it is spring training when 6 outfielders make up 9 of your batters in your opening game lineup. At least you would think this would be just a strange spring training game, but the truth is, 5 “outfielders” could make up the starting 8 on opening day at Busch Stadium on April 6.

The Cardinals open exhibition play today against the Florida Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter at 12:05 p.m. CT. Blake Hawksworth will get the start and try to continue the success he had at the end of the 2008 season, posting a 2.89 ERA with 23 K’s and 11 walks in his last 5 starts. Hawksworth was the clubs number 1 rated prospect after the 2004 season. Let’s hope he can get off to a good start and maybe live up to the potential the Cardinals saw in him earlier this decade.

The Cards lineup will have Ludwick, Ankiel, and Rasmus covering the outfield, and outfielders Skip Schumaker manning second base, Joe Mather manning third base, and Chris Duncan as the DH. Excluding the DH, there is a real possibility this could be a likely lineup during the first month of the season. The think I like most about this is the defensive alignment in the outfield. You have three guys who can all cover ground and all have above average arms.

I’m excited about keeping an eye on the spring training activities and how all the question marks in the Cardinals camp playout.

I’ve become pretty addicted to the new MLB Network since coming onto Directv on January 1st. Some must see TV I have my Tivo set for is the 30 Clubs in 30 Days show on the Cardinals which will air for the first time on 2/26 at 7:00 pm CT. They usually replay the show 2 or 3 times as well. The network is also carrying spring training games and your first chance to watch the Cardinals will be on Friday 2/27 when they visit Port St. Lucie to take on the Mets.

30 Clubs in 30 Days - MLB Network

30 Clubs in 30 Days - MLB Network

I received my season tickets on my door step yesterday and the return of baseball season is really starting to get to me. Let’s hope the Redbirds can stay healthy this spring and bring a solid squad to St. Louis in April.

If any readers are interested in tickets, I usually end having extra tickets that I sell for season ticket holder cost. I have full season tickets in section 595 of the bleachers and a 27 game weekend plan in section 509 of the bleachers. Just leave me a comment and I’ll add you to an email list that I send to when I have extra tickets available for sale.

Blake Hawksworth photo – stlcardinals.com
30 Clubs in 30 Days – mlb.com

Matt Wilson

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The team of the “aughties”?

Michael Riehn
Whiteyball staff

wstrophyThe decade of the 2000’s have been a good one for the Cardinals. They’ve continued their run of dominance in even numbered decades (World Championships in the 20’s, 40s, 60’s, 80’s and 2000’s) and submitted their name for discussion in the team of the decade debate. A World Series Championship, 2 pennants and 5 division titles, 1 Cy Young Award and 2 MVPs have made it a magical ride, and it’s fascinating to see how they compare to the other great teams of the decade.

With one year left in the 2000’s, can the Cardinals really make a claim as the team of the decade? Before we get into the American League (and the other heavyweight contenders: the Yankees and Red Sox), let’s take a look at the teams that have won the World Series in the National League:

 

Team Win % Playoffs Playoff WP Playoff W Div. Titles Penn. Champ
St. Louis 0.564 6 0.541 33 5 2 1
Philly 0.520 2 0.647 11 2 1 1
Florida 0.497 1 0.647 11 0 1 1
Arizona 0.504 3 0.519 14 3 1 1

 

It’s pretty easy to see that the Cardinals are well ahead of the competition for the NL title.  It would take a second World Championship by the Phillies, Marlins or the Diamondbacks to put any other team in the discussion.  A World Series Title in 2009 would make a compelling argument for any of these teams, but the Cardinals would still have a nice claim to the decade as they would most likely win every other category.

The National League has been down this decade though, so it’s not hard to see why the Cardinals have the inside track.  The American League has dominated the 2000’s so let’s look at the Cardinals versus the AL’s  two main contenders:

 

Team Win % Playoffs Playoff WP Playoff W Div. Titles Penn. Champ
St. Louis 0.564 6 0.541 33 5 2 1
Boston 0.566 5 0.630 34 1 2 2
NYYankees 0.593 8 0.526 41 7 2 1

 

A couple of things struck me about this table.  First, the Cardinals still have a chance to be team of the decade.  I really didn’t think they had a shot against these two American League teams.  They would have to win the World Series this year and the Red Sox could not win the pennant, but they still have the opportunity.  If this happened, I could still see an argument for the Red Sox, but it would be difficult to say either one was better. 

Second, I never expected the Yankees to have a compelling argument of overtaking the Red Sox for team of the decade.  I thought the Sox were a lock.  A World Series Championship by the Yankees wouldn’t just get them in the discussion, I think they would be the winner.  Boston would have a better winning percentage in the playoffs, but the division titles, playoff appearances and regular season winning percentage would tip the scale, in my opinion.

As Cardinals fans, we often complain about the team not doing enough to win and we question the moves of the ownership and front office.  If we take a step back though, we can see how truly blessed we’ve been in this decade.  Whether you believe it to be luck, skill or a combination thereof, we’ve had an amazing run that doesn’t happen to teams (not named the Yankees) very often.  Here’s hoping the Cardinals finish off the decade right and cap off one of the best decades in this storied franchise’s history.

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Spring Is In The Air, sort of

Trevor Coleman (Photo by Dustin Mattison)

Trevor Coleman (Photo by Dustin Mattison)

It might be blissfully cold here in Southeast Missouri but Spring is definitely on the way.  The St. Louis Cardinals are in full swing with workouts in Jupiter while the Division I college baseball season kicks off on Friday.

I got a text message from Ian Ostlund earlier this week with his impression of the first few days of Cardinals camp, “It’s wonderful here….what a classy organization!”  Ostlund has become a personal fave and is one to watch when looking at the southpaws competing for a spot in the Cardinals bullpen.  I had the pleasure of interviewing “Oz” recently at the Birdhouse.

So it took only a couple of days for some controversy to come out of the Cardinals camp.  Seems that Joel Pieneiro has taken exception to being left out of the Puerto Rico rotation.  First off, he is not better than Javier Vazquez, Ian Snell, or Jonathon Sanchez.  Secondly, didn’t he learn from the Adam Kennedy experience that he needs to keep things in-house?

In a couple of weeks, the minor leaguers will be ascending on RDS as the minor league phase of ST will be starting up.  I had a chance to talk shortly with left-hander Jonny Bravo recently and he let me know that he is leaving for Florida on March 9. I really believe he has a chance of starting the 2009 season at the Quad Cities.

Over at the Seamheads Historical League, my All-Time Cardinals team continues to struggle.  It looked like the team was ready to bounce back maybe using Derrick Goold’s recent blog as motivation.  But it was short lived as the team has lost three straight.

It seems to me that the more players that get busted for steroids, the better Mark McGwire looks.  It seems Joe Posnanski at Sports Illustrated feels the same way.  He has an interesting piece on McGwire and that infamous Congressional hearing. 

On the college front, a few of the teams I follow closely will be in action this weekend.

The Missouri Tigers will be in Phoenix to play a round robin tournament with Gonzaga and Nevada. The Tigers are experienced and talented at the top of their rotation with Kyle Gibson, Ian Berger, and Nick Tepesch. Behind the plate, Trevor Coleman is one of the top backstops in the country. Both Gibson and Coleman were named preseason All-Americans by Baseball America. The team is ranked number 10 by BA while ranking at number 20 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll.

The College Baseball Blog ranked Gibson as the fourth best college player in the country in its Top 50.

Vanderbilt will making the trek across country for a 2-game series with Stanford before traveling up the road for another 2-game series with Cal.  Left-hander Mike Minor could continue the trend of a Commodore being picked at the top of the draft.

The Southeast Missouri Redhawks hit the road for a series against the 21st ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.  The Redhawks return most of its offense but appears to be weak on the bump.  JUCO transfer Kyle Gumenley is a southpaw that is hoping to bring consistency to the rotation.

Sikeston native and Blake Dewitt’s cousin, J.R. Bizzell, has started off strong for Rhodes College.  The senior is hitting .400/.457/.467 through his first seven games.

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Dustin Mattison

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Pujols has the Right Picture

imgp02861Earlier this week Albert Pujols interviewed with Joe Strauss and had discussions regarding his contract status that runs through 2011 including the Cardinals club option.

Pujols told Strauss that he is more concerned with winning and wants to see the Cardinals commit to winning every year if he plans to sign another contract with the Cardinals. I think I even heard a hint of willingness to give the Cardinals the “Home Team Discount” they are always looking for.

The thing that really got me worked up about this story was the media attention that it got nationally. I expected all the local media to blow it up and try and turn this story around any which way possible. What I didn’t expect was to turn on MLB Network’s Hot Stove program and see Billy Ripken discussing how Pujols should have kept this behind closed doors with the organization. He stated the Pujols was acting out trying to bully the management into making bigger free agent signings. Harold Reynolds did follow Ripken with the approach that I believe, which is Pujols just wants to win and he doesn’t really care how it’s done, he just wants 9 more rings to put on all his other fingers. Reynolds also said that Pujols is the face of the organization and there is no problem with the him saying what he feels the organization should be doing. I agree that Pujols is the face of the Cardinals and his opinion of the organization counts and should be expressed.

Pujols interviewed for the first time with the ITD Morning After radio show on Team 1380, Tuesday morning and expressed these same feelings. He wants to win and if the Cardinals management wants to rebuild and not dedicate all resources to winning, then he will possibly look at a better situation where he has a better chance to win a championship. It was a really good interview, by a usually grab-ass morning radio show. Part 1 and Part 2 can be heard by linking back to insidestl.com.

I’m glad Pujols came out and stated the comments he did. Why not? The guy has played, arguably, the best baseball in the game over the past nine years and wants to win. The Cardinals need to heed his advice and try and put a winner out there every year. I don’t think Pujols expects the Cards payroll to be $150 million, but I do believe he expects a deal to be made if it makes sense for the organization and I completely agree with him.

Matt Wilson

Photo by Matt Wilson

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Top 5 spring training stories

When was the last time the Cardinals came to camp with as many questions as they have this year? With pitchers and catchers reporting to camp today, I wanted to list my top 5 stories to watch and also provide my predictions for these 2009 stories to watch. Leave comments and let me know your predictions.

Story 1

Skip Schumaker at the 2009 Winter Warmup

Skip Schumaker at the 2009 Winter Warmup

With Adam Kennedy kicked to the curb, there is a job to win at second base. This battle is wide open with possibilities being outfielder Skip Schumaker, former highly touted prospect Joe Thurston, Brendan Ryan, Brian Barden, Jarrett Hoffpauir, and Tyler Greene. I’m going to say that Greene and Hoffpauir are not going to get a good look. Barden and Ryan just don’t have the bat that Tony wants to see, which leaves me seeing a competition between Schumaker and Thurston. Can the outfielder convert to a second baseman or can the productive minor leaguer finally convert that talent in the big leagues. I know some are picking Thurston as the Cards ’09 second baseman to watch for, but I think Schumaker is going to win the job. On April 6th the Cardinals leadoff hitter and starting second baseman will be Skip Schumaker.

Story 2

The injury to Troy Glaus leaves another hole in the starting infield for opening day. The Cards are going to need someone to man third base until Glaus is able to return. Your key options look like David Freese, Brett Wallace, and Joe Mather. There are many other options, but I think these are the key players. I think the Cardinals are going to keep Wallace in the minors this year for more seasoning. Mather is going to make the team, but he will be a super sub who will possibly be getting time at second, third, and of course in the outfield. That leaves Freese as your starting third baseman on opening day. I don’t know if Freese is going to win the job, but I think the Cardinals need him to be their opening day third baseman. Wallace is the superstar in the waiting and Glaus is a free agent after this year. The Cardinals need to see what they have in Freese to see what they have. Freese could be a valuable trading chip if he performs well to start the season. David Freese will be the starting third baseman at Busch Stadium on opening day.

Story 3

Who is going to be the Cardinals 2009 closer? There are a few different options going into spring training. Chris Perez, Jason Motte, and Ryan Franklin are looking like the most likely candidates. I think we experienced Franklin closing too much last season and the bullpen is going to be in trouble if this is the final outcome. Jason Motte just doesn’t have the second pitch needed to succeed. Major league hitters are going to catch up to Motte’s heat, so if he doesn’t develop a second pitch, he’s not going to be a productive major league pitcher. That leaves Perez, who is my choice for winning the job. Perez has been doing the job since pitching at Miami. Perez has two quality pitches to work with and gained valuable experience partially closing out games in 2008. The big club will break for St. Louis with Chris Perez as their closer.

Story 4

Chris Carpenter. What are the Redbirds going to get from Chris Carpenter? This story will affect so much. The Cardinals entire rotation depends on the health of Carpenter. We don’t even know if the bullpen could be changed due to Carpenter’s condition. A rotation of Carpenter, Wainwright, Lohse, Wellemeyer, and Pineiro doesn’t look half bad, but remove Carpenter and push everyone up and add whoever into the 5th starter spot and things look scary. If Carpenter is healthy, this team can be successful. If not, then they will need to look for another starter over the next couple of weeks. I think they will bring in another arm in the next couple of weeks, but who that will be is anybody’s guess.

Story 5

Needs, needs, needs. The Cardinals definitely have needs. Just in the above 4 stories there are possible needs at second, third, closer, and in the starting rotation. What will the Cardinals do? The free agent market still has many options available. I don’t really see the Cardinals going after a free agent options to fill their needs at second, third or in the pen. I do think we’ll see a new pitcher coming to Jupiter pretty soon to help solidify the rotation. There is just too much uncertainty with Carpenter to leave the rotation as is.

Let me know your thoughts on spring training by leaving comments on this post. I love reading others opinions and trying to keep up with the spring training happenings, so let me know.

Matt Wilson

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Cardinals and Ankiel settle on contract

Rick Ankiel at the 2009 Winter Warmup

Rick Ankiel at the 2009 Winter Warmup

The Cardinals avoid arbitration with Rick Ankiel today, agreeing on a 1 year $2,825,000 contract.  The settlement was completed just hours before an arbitration hearing that would have determined his contract.

Michael Riehn

(Photo courtesy of Dustin Mattison)

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Looper off the table?

It appears a deal is close between the Milwaukee Brewers and Braden Looper according to Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin. This pulls one more option away from the Cardinals. Now just a few days away, the Cards are still looking to fill some possible needs in the rotation, the bullpen, and at second base. Should be an interesting spring in Jupiter.

Yahoo Sports Photo

Yahoo Sports Photo

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